It seems that young readers in China like getting goosebumps. Published in the U.S. by Scholastic, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels have sold more than five million copies in China since 2002, when Jieli Publishing House launched the series there. When that publisher invited Stine to China to meet his fans in person, the author happily accepted. He spent two weeks touring five cities across the country, and at every stop received a welcome that was anything but chilling.
Zhu Xiaohui, copyright manager at Jieli, says that the company issued the rare invitation to give Stine the chance “to meet his millions of little Chinese fans. The author and his Goosebumps books are so very popular among Chinese children that we thought it was time to invite him here.”
Stine—who was accompanied by his wife, Jane Stine, and Joan Waricha, partners at Parachute Press (which produces Goosebumps with Scholastic Paperbacks)—describes the trip as “absolutely amazing.” The author encountered large numbers of fans on his visits to schools, libraries and bookstores in Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Ji’nan and Shanghai. “I spoke to 1,000 kids at one school and the smallest crowd I had at any signing was 300,” he says.
The venues, like the crowds, were vast. “Everything was enormous,” says Stine. “In Beijing we went to a bookstore the size of a Wal-Mart that was entirely filled with people—reading and buying books. And in Shanghai I had an autographing at a bookstore that had seven stories—all packed with books and people.” In the industrial city of Ji’nan, Stine spoke at what he calls “China’s version of BEA, a huge gathering of 22,000 people in publishing.”
The author was impressed with his young Chinese fans’ manners and their enthusiasm for practicing their English (even though one child in Shanghai announced, “You’re a funny old man”). Stine found these Goosebumps readers similar to those he’s encountered in the States. “Here we were on the other side of the world, and the kids answered my questions exactly the same way as American kids do,” he explains. “At events, I often have kids help me write a ghost story, and there they made the exact same choices as American kids do when I do the same thing here.”
Jieli, which Stine says will begin publishing his Goosebumps HorrorLand series in July, uses the same cover art as Scholastic’s American editions, but translates the titles as well as Stine’s surname. “Looking at the writing on the covers,” he says, “the only thing I recognized was the ‘R.L.’ They made up a Chinese last name for me, and since there every name has at least two levels of meaning, they decided to call me something that was a bit scary. It’s ‘Kong Bu’—that’s Bu as in boo.”